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BT reveals plans to bring multimillion pound superfast broadband project to Weardale

Work is underway to bring superfast fibre broadband to communities in many parts of Weardale, Digital Durham announced today.

Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, have begun upgrading the BT exchange in Frosterley, with the first of more than 5000 homes and businesses due to be connected to the fibre network early next year.

Digital Durham is a £25 million initiative to transform broadband speeds for businesses and residents across County Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland and Tees Valley.

The project will be the most significant engineering work at the exchange since it was upgraded from analogue to digital in 1985.

BT’s investment of £5.9 million bolsters the public sector investment, which includes £7.8 million from Durham County Council & Gateshead, £9.1 million Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and a £1.3 million contribution from public sector partners in Sunderland and Tees Valley.

In February this year more than £1 million of further funding was secured from the Rural Community Broadband Fund which will be invested to extend fibre broadband coverage in the Durham and Tees Valley areas.

The funding, along with an additional investment from BT, will enable Digital Durham to extend the reach of next generation fibre broadband coverage across 98 per cent of County Durham.

Derek Richardson, Openreach project director for next generation access in the North East, said: “This is a complicated but vital engineering project which will bring huge benefits to many rural communities across Weardale.

“Extensive planning has already taken place to ensure that this work quickly and efficiently brings benefits to as many people as possible in Weardale.”

The first communities to feel those benefits will be in the in the Tow Law area early next year. They will be followed by many homes and businesses in locations such as Frosterley, Wearhead, Stanhope, Wolsingham and Eastgate.

Cllr Jane Brown, Durham County Council’s portfolio holder for Corporate Services, said: “Bringing superfast broadband to rural areas is a challenge.

Work has now started to overcome that challenge and bring the latest broadband technology to Weardale. This is fantastic news for those people living and working in Weardale.“

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